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Defamation

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What is anti-Semitism today, two generations after the Holocaust? In his continuing exploration of modern Israeli life, director Yoav Shamir travels the world in search of the most modern manifestations of the “oldest hatred”, and comes up with some startling answers. Only by understanding their response to anti-Semitism can we really appreciate how Jews today, and especially modern Israelis, respond to the world around them.


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Running Time: 93 min.
Subject(s): Current Affairs, Education, European History, Family, History, Humor, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies see all »
Language(s): English, Hebrew, Polish, Russian
Subtitles: English
Director(s):
Producer(s): SF FILM PRODUCTION, Knut.Ogris.Films, Cinephil, see all »
Cinematographer: Yoav Shamir
Editor(s): Morten Højbjerg
Production Company: SF FILM PRODUCTION, Knut.Ogris.Films, Cinephil, Reveal Productions

Press

  • “Defamation's humorous tone, wide range of colourful locations, thorough roster of interviewees and relatively rapid pacing will appeal to festival and TV audiences, as well as perhaps some specialised theatres in international urban centres.”
    Screen Daily Berlin
    Howard Feinstein
  • “An incredibly bold and brave film”
    Michael Moore
  • “Shamir is not just some Jewish Michael Moore firing off conspiracy theories that anti-Semitism is one giant myth fostered by leaders like Foxman to perpetuate their own power—his point is much more nuanced and prickly. Defamation is a chilling, psychological portrait of a people who are unwittingly traumatized by the past in ways that they are not aware.”
    Heeb Magazine
    Joshua Neuman
  • "This provocative and controversial film is sure to spark debate... Recommended."
    Video Librarian

Festival & Awards

  • Berlin International Film Festival - 2009
  • Tribeca Film Festival
    Special Mention
  • Documenta Madrid
    Audience Award
  • European Academy Awards
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • Asia Pacific Screen Awards
    Nominated for Best Documentary
  • Rencontres Internationales Du Domcumentaire de Montreal
    Camera At the Ready Award
  • Cinema du Reel
  • DOK Munich
  • Doc Aviv
    Best Research Award
  • Hot docs
  • Silverdocs
  • London International Film Festival
  • Warsaw International Film Festival
    Audience Award
  • Festival dei Popoli
    Best Film
  • Traverse City Film Festival
    The Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative Filmmaking

additional materials

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Distribution Company:

  • Director's Statement

    Director’s Statement:

    I first had the idea to make a film about anti-Semitism when my earlier work Checkpoint was released. In one of that film’s many reviews, I was called “the Israeli Mel Gibson,” not because of my good looks, but because the views I had expressed, critical of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, indicated that I was anti-Semitic. The author of that review was Jewish himself.

    At first I thought it was amusing. Being called an anti-Semite by an American Jewish reporter seemed completely farfetched. How could someone who chooses to live outside of Israel, who did not do military service like me, who did not lose a grandfather in the war like me, have the nerve to call me an anti-Semite?

    Until then I had never considered the central role that anti-Semitism plays in our lives. Upon reflection I realized that it is a constant buzz, always in the background, always annoying. After a while, you simply get used to it. How often are we really disturbed by the hum of an electric fixture or the drone of passing cars? Anti-Semitism may follow us like a shadow, but then again, who really notices his shadow on a daily basis?

    Once I did start noticing it, I realized that anti Semitism is actually a very popular topic in the Israeli discourse. Not a day goes by without at least one article in the newspaper mentioning “Nazis,” “the Holocaust,” or “anti-Semitism.” Having never experienced anti-Semitism myself—the closest I came was being compared to Mel Gibson—I decided to learn something about the subject.

    This was the beginning of a long journey, culminating in this film. Anti-Semitism is an enormous word with many different connotations. Because of the events of the recent past, it also designates a very sensitive topic. Anti-Semitism is the ultimate “sacred cow” for Jews. While I did not set out to slaughter that cow, even the most sacred of cows needs to be shaken up every once in a while.

    At times I found the subject daunting. No other phenomenon in Jewish history had so much written about it by academics that spent their whole lives studying it. Who the hell was I to think that I might have anything meaningful to add? I was walking on some very thin ice. Nevertheless, I decided to follow my instincts. Any question is relevant if I believe it is; I should never be afraid to ask or challenge even the most hallowed assumptions. The result is a personal journey that reflects things as I saw them. It, it is not intended as an academic essay.

    I had embarked on a fascinating quest that meandered between the way young Israelis are raised in the cumbersome shadow of the Holocaust (making this film, in some ways, the last part of a trilogy made in the wrong order: Checkpoint, about Israeli soldiers; Flipping Out, about what happens to these soldiers after they leave the army; and Defamation, which examines Israeli youth before they begin their military service), the Anti-Defamation League, which is the largest organization in the world to combat anti-Semitism, and those who oppose the ADL, including Professor Norman Finkelstein, and John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the authors of The Israeli Lobby.

    My journey took me around the world: from Israel to the US; from Moscow to Rome to Poland. Mostly, however, it was a journey into the human soul, into the way that people think, and in my particular case, how my people, the Jewish people, choose to deal with the past.

    I hope that everyone watching this film will find it as though-provoking as I found my quest, and will honestly question their own assumptions about the issues it raises.

  • More Screenings and Broadcasts

     

    More festival Screenings

    Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival

    Zurich Film Festival Seattle International Film Festival, 2009

    Oslo Eurodok, 2009

    Beunos Aires, 2009

    Hamburg Doc, 2009

    Encounters South Africa

    Melbourne International Film Festival, 2009

    Vancouver International Film Fetsival, 2009

    Kosovo International Documentary Film Festival- Special Mention

    Reykjavik International Film Festival

    Montreal RIDM

    Zagreb DOX

    DOC NZ

    Istanbul International Film Festival

    Commercial releases:
    Theatrical US release October, 2009

    Austria January 2010

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